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5 Creative Ways College Students Can Save Money

how college students can save money

Rising tuition costs and high living expenses can make it tough for college students to stay on track with their finances. Fortunately, there are many creative ways you can save money as a college student.

Here are five ways you can get started: 

1. Student discounts

One of the best ways to save money while you're in school is by taking advantage of student discounts. You only get access to this discount for about four years so that you may make the most of it. 

Dozens of businesses offer discounts to college students, so this is a great way to stick to your budget and still enjoy some of your favorite activities. Remembering your student ID with you everywhere you go and always ask if a business offers a discount for college students.

Here are a few examples of great student discounts to get you started:


  • Groceries: Sam's Club offers varying discounts to college students, depending on the location you're visiting. Plus, if you sign up for a Sam's Club Collegiate Membership, you'll instantly receive a $15 e-gift card. This means you can stock up on your groceries for less.
  • Activities: You can find discounted tickets to several different sporting events, including major league baseball, college sports, and skiing. You can also attend various orchestra and theatre events at a discounted rate.
  • Travel: You can save 10% on all Greyhound fares with the Student Advantage Discount Card. And you can also earn $100 in travel credits at over 400,000 hotels across the country.
  • Cell phone plans: There's no reason you should have to pay for a hefty cell phone bill every month. Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon all offer discounted student cell phone plans. 

2. No-fee credit cards 

Taking advantage of a no-fee credit card can be a great way to save money and build credit while you're still in school. With the right card, you can earn cashback rewards and additional bonuses.

Just make sure you pay off your balance in full every month, so you don't end up paying a bunch of money in interest. Here are three student cards you might consider:


  • Discover it Student Cash Back Card: The Discover it Student Cash Back card offers 5% cashback on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter. There is no annual fee, and students don't have to pay foreign transaction fees. Plus, you can get rewarded for your good grades with the Good Student Bonus. You'll receive a $20 statement credit for every year your GPA is above a 3.0.
  • Journey Student Rewards from Capital One: The Journey, Student Rewards card, offers 1% cashback on all of your purchases. If you make your monthly payments on time, these rewards increase to 1.25%. And once you make six monthly payments on time, you can be considered for a higher credit limit. This card doesn't charge any annual fees or foreign transaction fees.
  • Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card: This card comes with an introductory 0% APR for the first six months and cashback rewards. You can receive 3% cashback on groceries, gas, and drugstore purchase for the first six months. You'll receive a 1% cashback on every additional purchase. This card doesn't have any annual fee. 

3. Sell your textbooks

College textbooks can be pretty pricey. The good news is, you can sell those books back at the end of the semester and make some of your money back.

But in most cases, it's not a good idea to try to sell your books back to your school. Even if the books are brand-new, you're unlikely to receive much money for them. It's a much better strategy to sell your books to buyback websites like Amazon, Chegg, or BookScouter. 

To maximize the amount that you earn, make sure you take care of your books during the semester. Don't fold the pages over or write in your books, as this will decrease their value. 

And once the semester is over, don't wait too long before trying to sell the books. Obviously, you should hang onto them until the finals are over. But textbooks are constantly being updated, so you want to sell them as soon as possible to snag the best prices.

4. Forgo your car

One of the quickest ways to save money during college is by living near your school and forgoing a car. Purchasing a parking permit can be pricey, and you may realize that finding a parking spot on campus is next to impossible. 

Forgoing your car for four years will save you money on gas, and save you from spending 20 minutes driving around campus looking for a parking spot. Win-win!

And there are plenty of ways you get around campus without a car. The best option is just to walk or ride your bike if you live close to the school. Many universities offer bike-sharing programs with low annual memberships. 

If you live too far away to ride your bike, then you might see if you can find discounted shuttles or bus passes. Many schools partner with local public transportation departments to offer steep discounts to college students. 

If forgoing owning a vehicle just isn't an option for you then you might consider carpooling with a few other students. This will help you scour savings money on gas, and you may find that it's more fun than commuting on your own. 

5. Don't wait to repay your student loans

And finally, one of the ideal ways to save money is to start paying down your student loans while you're still in school. It can be really tempting to just forget about your student loans until after you graduate, but this is not always the best plan.

Even paying just a little bit of money toward your student loans every month can go a long way toward minimizing the balance. Try to start putting at least $20 a month toward your student loan payments. 

This will help you pay down the interest, and will help you avoid graduating from college with massive amounts of student loan debt. If you don't have a lot of extra money, consider taking on a part-time job to put toward those student loan payments.

It may not be the most enticing option right now, but you'll be glad you did in four years when you're in a much better position financially.

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